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The 2007 Annual Retreat and Assembly

30/04/2007: Philippines

Last April 1 – 8 forty-three brothers gathered at the Jesuit Retreat House in Malaybalay City. Our first gathering was during the Liturgy of Palm Sunday at 6 PM, after which we went for supper. Later that evening, we assembled at the conference room to agree on the schedule for the whole duration of the retreat. It was also there that our retreat director was introduced.

Fr. Edgar Javier is a member of the Society of the Divine Word (SVD). A missiologist, Fr. Ed is a professor at the Institute for Consecrated Life in Asia (ICLA) in Quezon City. He is also a regular presenter at the Mission Ad Gentes Program in Davao City and a visiting instructor of MAPAC.

With amusing stories born out of his experiences of working as a missionary for many years in the Pacific Islands, Fr. Ed guided us in reflecting about Dialogue: Our Mission Today. His background on World Religions played an important role as he developed topics that helped us put our Christian faith in a more enlightened perspective.

The different communities, having been informed over a month earlier, took turns in animating the different liturgies: morning and Marial prayers, evening Masses, the Liturgy of the Lords Supper and Washing of the Feet, Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament, Stations of the Cross, Good Friday Liturgy and Veneration of the Cross, Rite of Reconciliation and the Easter Vigil Mass, which brought our time together to a climax.

The last session with Fr. Ed was on Black Saturday morning. In the afternoon, we gathered for the assembly. Highlights of such were the Updates from the Provincial and his Council, the Economes Report, and a sharing from Br. Crispin on Legislations Affecting Children. The open forum provided a venue for brothers to raise issues that were either discussed or clarified.

Br. Manny also scheduled his interviews with individual brothers during the days of retreat. With the exception of brothers who already know of their assignments, there were brothers who were held in suspense until the finalized list of Summer 2007 and SY 2007-2008 Appointments were posted.

Capping the gathering is the Easter Dinner that followed the Vigil Mass. Not everybody chose to enjoy the lechon; but the rich choice of drinks made up for that, I suppose. Many brothers stayed on in different clusters long after the JRH Staff have washed the dishes. One could well say that there is no easy way of putting an end to all the story-telling and laughing-at-lifes-humor, if you know what I mean. There was a group who sang the night away with Magic Sing, courtesy of Br. Armand.

If there were Easter Eggs to hunt, too bad the brothers did not have the excitement to look for them. After breakfast on Easter Sunday, we began the exodus. It might take another year for some to see each other again. But life must go on, you know…

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